Day 13: San Isidro to Sumaco

Great morning birding with Galo, not many close-ups for good photos, a couple of times we saw birds far off, then they co-operated and moved closer.

The Emerald Toucanet looks really angry!

The Magpie Tanager is sat in front of a Smooth-billed Ani

Lemon-browed Flycatcher

Yellow-browed Sparrow

These Black Vultures appear to be having a Thanksgiving feast of an entire cow.

Day 12: Cabanas San Isidro

Stayed around the area today, but first, a mention of the Owl. There is a history at this refuge/complex of a Black-banded Owl subspecies that is often seen, and which was spotted last night after supper.

The Black-banded Owl from last night.

This Russet-backed Oropendula is a large bird, about 24 centimetres long.

The Blackburnian Warbler is another migratory bird, one I have previously seen in Canada, during the spring migration as they escape to cooler climes.

Smoke-coloured Pewee, one of a huge number of flycatchers in Ecuador.

This Pale-edged Flycatcher is another.

The Black-eared Hemispingus was yet another first ever viewing, before breakfast.

Later in the day there was this spectacular Booted Racket-tail

Day 11; Cabanas San Isidro

I had a question about the equipment I am using for the photography: the camera body is a Canon R5. For the first 3 days I had a Canon 100-500 RF zoom lens, but then, disaster, it was dropped, and the autofocus stopped working. Fortunately our guide, Galo Real, was using Canon equipment and he generously lent me his Canon EF 400 with a 1.4 teleconverter, and I had an EF to RF adaptor with me. So after day 3 the photos are all taken with that. The lens is a very high quality Canon lens, but doesn’t have the same image stabilization as the newer lenses, which interact with the in-body stabilisation of the mirrorless R5. And now on for anyone who isn’t a photography nerd!

We stayed around San Isidro today, first of all an early start watching the birds that came to snatch the moths off a sheet near the balcony, attracted there overnight by a bright light. Then a couple of expeditions, one of which enable us to find the elusive and amazing Torrent Duck.

Canada Warbler, this particular male had only one leg. The one in the header image is able-bodied, but we are very inclusive in Canada, so both are included in this blog!

Scarlet-rumped Cacique, AKA Neotropical Cacique

White-bellied Antpitta

Summer Tanager, this bird and the Canada Warbler are migratory birds that spend their summer much further north, many of them in Canada.

Torrent Duck, unlike many ducks who like to swim in calm water, this one braves the raging torrents of the rivers in the Andes, swimming upstream, then jumping out, only to return for more exercise. Apparently he (this is the male) eats algae and larvae churned up by the current.

Day 10: Guango Lodge to San Isidro

Spent a couple of hours in a hide before breakfast, and saw the birds in the first 3 photos, then a walk down to the river seeking Torrent Ducks, which was the first unsuccessful bird search of the trip. Then heading further east, to the San Isidro, down to an elevation of about 2,000 m, the Lodge is situated in what is mostly primary forest, in a reserve area of 3,000 hectares.

Mountain Cacique

Turquoise Jay, I know he’s not really turquoise, but “Blue Jay” was already taken.

Green Jay. The sexes are very similar, I think this is a male as the tuft of feathers above the beak is bluish.

Gray-browed Scrubfinch, found a tasty insect to eat.

Pearled Treerunner

Day 9, transfer to Guango Lodge

Heading east now, into the Andes at first, then starting to descend. Not a lot to see as we went over the mountain ridge (by which I mean only 3 new species!) and then arriving at Guango Lodge for several new species of Hummingbirds, including one I missed earlier in the trip, and was hoping to see, this one

Sword-billed Hummingbird, the dramatically long beak has evolved to extract nectar from Brugmansia.

Long-tailed Sylph. The tail may get in the way, but Darwin’s understanding of sexual selection explains such exuberant features. The females have a short tail.

Female Long-tailed Sylph. She is quite pretty though, even without the long tail.

The Collared Inca looks almost black.

The White-bellied Woodstar is tiny, the body is only about 3 cm long, not including tail and beak.

Tourmaline Sunangel, a female, which is why her neck is not coloured tourmaline!

This is the male.

Day 8, Antisana Ecological Reserve

Up to high elevations today, hoping to see Condors among other things, but not expecting to see a Spectacled Bear, a species in grave danger.

From across the other side of the wide valley, a Condor roosting spot, where the Condor poop has turned the rocks white.

As we were watching the Condors soar above us, someone noticed, across the other side of the wide valley, a Spectacled Bear,

A Carunculated Caracara, a bird of prey.

Found some Andean Ibis, as we were watching, they took off, circled round again, and I took the above picture as they came back in to land.

Day 7, Refugio Paz de las Aves, Alambi Reserve

Up very early this morning to be in time for the commotion at a lek where the Andean Cock-of-the-rock males gather to scream and dance and compete for females.

The females were difficult to see and even harder to photograph, being hidden in amongst the branches

Female Andean Cock-of-the-rock

Giant Antpittas, the largest of this family, about 25 cm tall.

Yes this is a bird! The Common Potoo resembles the broken end of an old tree-trunk, which is I guess a good way to avoid being eaten.

Lyre-tailed Nightjar. The guides pointed the bird out to me, and, even though I was looking straight at it, I couldn’t see it there.

Close-up of the head area

Easy to see why this one is called the Moustached Antpitta.

Day 6, Milpe Bird Sanctuary and at Sachatomie lodge

Early morning, just about dawn we sat in a hide at the lodge.

This female Long-Wattled Umbrellabird was happy to find tasty moths. (Only the male has the long wattle)

Next up in the morning was the stocky Broad-Billed Motmot who also appreciated the moths

This is about the 4th Woodcreeper we have seen, they are all very similar, but I was reliably informed that this one is officially called the Plain Brown Woodcreeper.

This Red-headed Barbet had taken a big mouthful of banana

Thick-billed Euphonia feeding a juvenile

Green Honeycreeper, this is the female who showed up first,

Followed 30 minutes later by the male Green Honeycreeper

Back at Sachatomie the female Red-headed Barbet appeared, I caught her also with her mouth full as she jumped from one perch to another a little higher on the branch. As you can see her head is yellow!

Day 5, Rio Silanche Bird Sanctuary, Los Bancos and Mindo

More usual approach to birding today, no feeding stations in the morning, walking around the bird sanctuary, the mist was fairly thick, partially obscuring the birds in the photos.

Yellow-throated Toucans

Collared Aracari picking fruit

Masked Water Tyrant

Torrent Tyrannulet

Silver-throated Tanager, this one was at a feeder next to a restaurant. Another endemic.

Day 4, Amagusa Reserve, Mashpi area

Another amazing day, this time with several Endemics (birds only found in the local area, between the Eastern and Western Andes) and couple of rarities

Moss-backed Tanager

Rufous-throated Tanager

Rose-faced Parrot

Slate-throated Redstart

Scaled Fruiteater, male and female

Day 2; Yanacocha reserve, Old Nono Mindo Road, Tandayapa Valley

Trip to Zumo Loma, then to La Reserva Yanacocha. Saw the Buzzard Eagle on the way. Then the remaining Tanagers and Antpittas at the 2 reserves. They set up feeding stations, mostly with Bananas to attract the Tanagers. Late afternoon back to Sachatamia Lodge.

Black-chested Buzzard Eagle

Blue-capped Tanager

Yellow-breasted Brushfinch

Chestnut-naped Antpitta

Equatorial Antipitta

Black-chested Mountain Tanager

Scarlet-breasted Mountain Tanager

Andean Guam

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